OK, I admit it… the above picture looks like vomit.
But here’s the thing: it tastes really good and it’s dirt cheap. That’s why I eat it two to three times a week.
Although I’ve written about cart food before, I haven’t sampled much of it. Sure, I’ve had the odd pretzel here and there, and even a hot dog if I’m feeling brave . But that fully prepared stuff? I tend to stay away.
After a few months at the new NYC job, however, I became bored with deli sandwiches. I craved something more substantial. And yet, my lunch budget wouldn’t allow anything new that spiked above the $5 – $10 range.
Enter: the chicken and rice plate.
For a mere $5, you get a complete meal that’s tasty, filling and not terribly bad for you. Best of all, it’s not as scary as you think.
Here’s what goes into it:
- Dirty or yellow rice: well-seasoned and flavorful
- A small salad: generally of lettuce and tomato
- Chunks of chicken: soaked in a secret-spice marinade and combined on the grill with onions, carrots and peppers
- Sauce(s): a creamy, slightly tangy white one and/or a spicy red deal
(For only $1 more, you can get a combo of chicken and doner kebab lamb.)
The two carts I frequent are only a block away from each other, but they each have a distinct take on chicken and rice.
- On 60th Street, close to Broadway, they give you bigger chunks of shredded chicken, but no choice of rice. This is the one pictured.
- The 59th Street, between Broadway and Ninth, location has smaller, less tender pieces of chicken, but provides a choice of rice. The red sauce is also a good deal spicier.
Honestly, you can’t go wrong with either of these place, or most of the carts in the city. I’ve found this food to be the absolute best value for a New York City lunch.
Now, if they could only do something about those styrofoam containers…
Posted in My Lunch, NYC
Tagged best value, cart food, chicken, chicken & rice, columbus circle, lamb, lunch, midtown lunch, NYC, rice
- Meat mix
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 1/4 cup dry Vermouth
- 1 medium onion, chopped
- 1 package frozen peas
- salt & pepper
Shape meat mixture (same as Stuffed Peppers) into small balls, and brown on all sides in olive oil in a coverable skillet. Remove meatballs from pan and saute onion until soft. Return meatballs to pan.
Add Vermouth and cook 2 – 3 minutes. Add package of frozen peas, and salt & pepper to taste. Cover and cook until meat & peas are done, about 15 minutes.
Serve over rice.
Read my observations.
I hope you all had a happy holiday break, whatever (and however) you celebrated. There’s a lot to catch up on, so let’s get to it.
The first dish up is a huge, hardy gumbo, made once again from a recipe appearing in Bon Appetit. I don’t remember exactly how I arrived at this Cajun stew for a Christmas potluck party, but, then again, there were a lot of drinks that night.
Gumbo is a dish of huge proportions in every aspect: volume, prep time, expense and taste. Be prepared to spend upwards of $40 or more to put together all the ingredients (including some not-so-easy-to-get items like clam juice and frozen okra). You’ll be in the kitchen at least an hour (including a huge amount of chopping time) and will be doing a load of stirring.
For a party of upwards of 20, I halved the recipe and still took almost half home at the end of the night. I made six cups of cooked rice to accompany it; I would suggest more like 10 cups for the halved recipe.
It may be a lot of effort, but you’ll eat like a king for days. The stew has amazing resiliency and really does taste better in the days subsequent to its marathon preparation.
As for substitutions, I did use some pre-cooked chicken sausage from Trader Joe’s instead of the andouille (in order to appease my favorite vegetarians). Just remember that since they are pre-cooked, you should only add this kind of sausage at the very end to warm it up. The same rule applies if you’re using already-cooked shrimp, as I did.
This is a fairly easy recipe and good to make when you want something warm and you’re feeling lazy. Most people think of beans & rice as a traditional side dish for Latin-American dishes, but it works well on its own with a small salad or veggie on the side.
What else can I say? I guess the Italian spices make it “Italian,” but the whole deal is fairly close to other recipes I’ve seen. I once tried to substitute red beans, and it worked ok, but not as good as black. Also, and keep in mind I haven’t tried this, I think you can throw the bean mixture in a blender and turn it back out into the pan for “refried” beans. Again, that’s just theoretical conjecture on my part.
Oh yeah, a little reminder on salt: since the bacon is already salty, be sure not to toss too much in during the final cooking. A little dash will… you know.
- 1 small onion, diced
- 1 clove garlic
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 1-2 slices bacon (or turkey bacon)
- 1 can black beans
- 1 tbsp Italian seasoning
- 1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
- salt & pepper to taste
In a saucepan or deep skillet, saute onion in olive oil. Add chopped garlic when onion is halfway cooked. After several more minutes, add bacon and cook all until onion is soft, but not browned.
Add black beans, bring to a boil, then simmer. After simmering for 10 – 20 minutes, add spices and mix in. Let cook another 5 – 10 minutes to desired doneness. Serve over white or yellow rice.
Read my observations.